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October 27, 2006

Zillow targeted with complaint

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:30 AM

A nonprofit group has filed a complaint against Seattle-based Zillow.com, saying that the online real estate site is so inaccurate when it comes to home valuations that it is causing bigger problems.

The complaint came from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which works to try to bring more private money into low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. That group said it founded the Center for Responsible Appraisals and Valuations.

Zillow says the allegations are groundless. Here are some of the key portions in the complaint, which is online here.

Zillow says that most of its home valuations are within 10 percent of the selling price of the home as valued by the owner or a real estate professional, according to the group. But the NCRC did its own audit and found that Zillow came within that 10 percent zone less than a third of the time.

The group also said that Zillow overvalues homes in affluent areas and undervalues homes in neighborhoods that are primarily African American or Latino. That disrupts the NCRC's mission of bringing more private money into underserved areas.

The NCRC also said it was unfair that Zillow gets to freely give estimates while traditional appraisers have to deal with liability issues and reporting and record-keeping requirements.

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